The Navy and Army this week held three tests meant to aid the services with new hypersonic weapon development, according to the Pentagon, which called the three tests successful.
The tests, run on Wednesday by Sandia National Laboratory from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, will help “inform the development of the Navy's Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) and the Army's Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) offensive hypersonic strike,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Using hypersonic weapon component prototypes, the tests “demonstrated advanced hypersonic technologies, capabilities, and prototype systems in a realistic operating environment.”
The trials took place following reports of hypersonic missile tests from numerous countries with which the United States has had tense relationships.
Last week, reports emerged that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile this summer, a move that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise. Beijing has denied the claim, alleging it was a “routine” test of a space vehicle.
North Korea said last month it successfully tested a hypersonic missile, while Russia reported earlier this month that for the first time it launched a hypersonic missile from the Severodvinsk submarine.
The United States, for its part, has pursued developing hypersonic weapons since the early 2000s as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program. It is working with defense contractors including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to develop the capability, which the Pentagon said is one of its “highest priorities.”
Hypersonic weapons fly in the upper atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound, or roughly 3,850 miles per hour.